How to Cope with Financial Hardships as a Result of Cancer

While much of the discussion about the impact of cancer centers on the physical repercussions of the disease, there are many other areas of a person’s life that are affected. Finances, for instance, often take a very serious hit when a person is battling cancer. What causes these hardships? The cost of treatment is perhaps the most significant roadblock for many patients. The price tag associated with chemotherapy, pill regimens or surgery can seem prohibitive to many; even with insurance, medical bills can pile up into the tens of thousands. That doesn’t include other costs, such as co-pays, transportation, equipment, and more. There are also a number of lifestyle changes that can impact finances. For instance, patients may have to reduce their working hours or stop working altogether, which can cripple the incoming cash flow. Factor into that added childcare costs while the person is in treatment or recovering and the challenging financial landscape comes more into focus. What are some ways to cope with these hardships? Patients may tap into their savings to meet these added costs, and can even borrow against life insurance. This is a more strategic approach, as it allows the person to meet immediate needs while still thinking about the future. Some insurance policies, particularly those that are whole or life, may allow holders to borrow against life insurance, though they will have that provision written into their policy and have to meet a range of criteria. Another option is a program like Life Credit’s Living Benefits Loan initiative, which has more flexibility eligibility requirements and is open to both whole- and term-life policyholders....

Overcoming Financial Stress as a Result of Cancer

Financial assistance for cancer patients isn’t simply a way to avoid debt or hang onto savings—it can also help patients avoid further physical complications and potentially hang onto years of their lives. The cost of cancer is one of the most serious, yet often overlooked, side effects of the disease. Since finances are often a personal matter, many may choose to keep the burden of mounting medical bills to themselves, which can only further a medical crisis. Stress, including from finances, has been proven to result in poorer physical outcomes. Those who choose to face the overwhelming cost of fighting cancer on their own may actually be putting all that they’re working for at risk. Just like with any stressful circumstance, those who seek help are closer to finding peace of mind—which, for those facing a serious illness like cancer, can literally be life-saving. Financial assistance for cancer patients can come in many forms. Because there is a lack of awareness around the financial impact of cancer, few people may be financially prepared if they receive such a diagnosis, meaning their best option may be to fall back onto the resources that they do have. Life insurance is one outlet that many have invested in, and which can be used in a time of crisis. Instead of selling a policy, however, Life Credit’s Living Benefit Loan program enables cancer patients to borrow against their policy’s death benefit—freeing up cash to help them meet their immediate needs without losing the future benefits of having such a policy. Apart from securing financial assistance for cancer patients, another key is dealing with...

How to Get Financial Assistance as a Cancer Patient

This is the conclusion of a three-part series called Navigating Cancer Care. Cancer patients have a mountain of decisions to consider: Which doctor to choose? Which therapy is best? How to tell loved ones about the diagnosis? How to pay for treatment? That last question may be the one that most deeply vexes patients, who are faced with the reality that treating cancer can take thousands and thousands of dollars, which most people don’t have at easy disposal. Financial assistance for cancer patients can be a lifesaving option that can connect them to better care, better treatment, and better outcomes. But with all of the other decisions patients have to make, how can they navigate the often-complex world of financial assistance for cancer patients? Education is an important first step toward understanding the options, and ultimately making a smart decision. Cancer centers can connect patients with a financial advisor, who will be able to offer a picture of the different programs that specialize in financial help for cancer patients. However, each patient’s situation is different—based on their financial resources, their treatment costs and other factors—so it’s important to do independent research and be your own advocate. Grants and scholarships exist, yet are often geared toward low-income individuals; however, even those with more savings or earning power often struggle to make ends meet after a cancer diagnosis. Other options include tapping into resources like a life insurance policy. Some patients may consider selling their policy, yet that means that they won’t later have that security for which they may have been saving for years. Another approach is borrowing against life...

Financial Considerations for Cancer Patients

This is the second in a three-part series called Navigating Cancer Care. Among the many effects of cancer—from the physical to the mental to the emotional—the financial impact can be the most unanticipated and misunderstood, yet also the most long-lasting. The costs of cancer can be immense, and that financial burden has the potential to dramatically shape a patient’s care, as well as prognosis. That’s why options like loans for cancer patients and other programs to provide financial assistance for cancer patients can be lifesaving, in more ways than one. For those without considerable financial resources, the costs associated with top doctors, award-winning cancer treatment centers, and the most innovative therapies may make recovery seem hard to reach. However, everyone deserves an equal shot at health, which is why it’s important for those facing a cancer diagnosis to explore their financial situations and come up with a plan to overcome the financial obstacles of cancer. Taking inventory of your own finances is a practical first step to establish a firm understanding of your financial landscape. Then getting a handle on your expected costs can help you put that figure into context. Many cancer treatment centers connect patients with a financial counselor, who can offer advice about options like loans for cancer patients and other innovative cost-saving programs. Remember to not just explore the price tag of chemotherapy or other medical bills but to also consider hidden costs. For instance, does your employer offer a disability option so you can continue receiving your salary, or will you have to contend with lost wages? Take into account added costs for childcare...

What Can You Expect to Spend Out of Pocket When You Have Cancer?

The cost of cancer treatment may be one of the first worries that crosses someone’s mind when he or she receives a cancer diagnosis. Fears over how to pay—and even if they can pay—for quality care shouldn’t be top of mind for those dealing with life-threatening illnesses but, unfortunately, that is a reality for far too many people. Research has consistently found that cancer patients face serious risk to their financial well-being because of their care. It’s difficult to determine the average cost of cancer treatment—as each person’s insurance, diagnosis and treatment is different—but one study found that patients were paying, on average, 11 percent of their income in out-of-pocket treatment costs. Sixteen percent of those surveyed reported significant financial distress, and that was despite 60 percent of those individuals having health insurance. Where exactly does all the money go? What are the out of pocket costs of cancer treatment?   Co-pays: Visiting doctors and specialists on a regular basis can amass a significant number of office co-pays. Treatment: From pill regimens to chemotherapy, many patients are expected to pay at least part of treatment costs out of pocket. Testing: With high-deductible plans so common these days, the routine testing before, during and after cancer treatment can come with a high price tag. Lifestyle changes: Many patients overlook the lost wages that stem from reduced working hours that are often necessary during and after treatment. Transportation: Getting to and from medical appointments can be costly, as patients often have to enroll in transportation services or rely on rideshare options when loved ones aren’t available. The American Cancer Society’s Costs of...

How Expensive Is Cancer?

Just how much does cancer cost? It’s difficult to pinpoint, but what is easy to determine is that cancer can be extremely expensive, even financially toxic for some people. The Cancer Action Network estimates that the 2014 cost of cancer care in the United States was a staggering $87.8 billion, a number shared by patients, employers, insurance companies and public programs. CAN notes it’s difficult to put a price tag on the individual costs of cancer because there is so much variation in treatment methods and insurance options, but out-of-pocket expenses may easily exceed $200,000, according to the organization’s cancer treatment cost statistics. Forbes estimates that the average cost of cancer treatment was equal to about 11 percent of patients’ income in the United States. Where does all the money go? There are a number of things that drive expenses, such as high prescription costs, copays for doctor visits, exorbitant costs of treatments like chemotherapy and hospital fees for surgery. Then there is the indirect, and often unexpected, cost of cancer care. Expenses like childcare, mental-health treatments, transportation to appointments, lost income from reduced working hours and potentially a job loss all add onto the cancer treatment cost, and can significantly overwhelm patients. Financial Help For Cancer Patients Some may be so eager for quick cash that they decide to sell their life insurance policy in what is called a viatical settlement. Such an agreement involves the transfer of a policy to a third party for less than what it is worth, with the policyholder able to use the lump sum proceeds to address his or her immediate financial needs....